Wolverhampton Literature Festival 2019: Top events to attend

By Rebecca Sayce | Best of | Published: | Last Updated:

Wolverhampton Literature Festival is returning for 2019 - and the line-up is bigger and better than ever.

John Cooper Clark

More than 100 events have been crammed into the three-day programme, which takes over the weekend of February 1 to 3.

From podcasts to question and answer sessions, writing sessions and crime investigations, take a look at our top picks of events to attend during the festival:

Tim Spiers and Nathan Judah: On Our Way Back - Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Nathan Judah and Tim Spiers

February 1

Wolves' Premier League promotion will be celebrated, with Express & Star duo Tim Spiers and Nathan Judah reliving their memories of the season.

They reflect on the club's Championship-winning season, with excerpts from Tim's book On Our Way Back, before leading a question and answer session with the audience.


Tickets cost £2.

Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast - Bilston Town Hall

Richard Herring


February 1

'The Podfather’ and ‘King of the Internet’ brings his award winning podcast to Wolverhampton, chatting with a surprise guest.

This ground-breaking podcast won the Bronze Award for Best Comedy at the 2013 Sony Radio Academy Awards and the Chortle Internet Award 2013, 2014 and 2018 and has spawned brand new book Emergency Questions.

At over 200 episodes, previous guests have included Stephen Fry, Simon Pegg, Steve Coogan, Stephen Merchant, Dawn French, Maria Bamford and Brian Blessed.

Tickets cost £14.

Nritya: Collecting the Story of Indian Dance in the Black Country 1960 to 2000 - Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Jai Jashin Dance. Photo by: Matthew Cawrey

February 1

Join Jai Jashn Dance for the launch of Nritya, exploring the heritage of Indian dance in the Midlands.

Over the next year the group will collect and document the largely unwritten and unrecorded story of Indian dance, focusing especially on the Black Country, for a festival weekend at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Arena Theatre in 2020.

This event is free to attend.

Ann Widdicombe - Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Ann Widdicombe

February 2

Once an outspoken politician, Ann Widdicombe has since been a regular and controversial TV figure.

She will lift the lid on life in Westminster and share behind-the-scenes gossip from shows she has appeared in including Strictly Come Dancing, Have I Got News For You and Celebrity Big Brother.

Tickets cost £22.

Elvis McGonagall - Art Gallery, Contemporary Gallery

Elvis McGonagall

February 2

Stand-up poet, armchair revolutionary, comedian, broadcaster, recumbent rocker and walking shortbread tin, Elvis McGonagall resides at The Graceland Caravan Park somewhere in the middle of nowhere where he scribbles verse whilst drinking Scotch, listening to Johnny Cash and throwing heavy objects at his portable telly.

Two series of his sitcom Elvis McGonagall Takes A Look On The Bright Side have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 where he appears regularly as well as popping up occasionally on the television.

Tickets cost £8.50.

Liz Berry and Roy McFarlane - Central Library

Roy McFarlane

February 2

Liz Berry is the author of Black Country, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

Roy McFarlane was born in Birmingham of Jamaican parentage and spent most of his years living in Wolverhampton and the surrounding Black Country. He has held the role of Birmingham’s Poet Laureate and is presently the Birmingham and Midland Institute Poet in Residence.

Tickets to this event are free.

Stewart Lee - Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Stewart Lee

February 2

Comedian and writer Stewart Lee will read from his contribution to the book Hometown Tales, about his youthful fascination for Midlands post-punk band The Nightingales and an outsized piece of public sculpture located in Birmingham's Bull Ring.

Tickets cost £9.

Peter Chand - Newhampton Arts Centre

Peter Chand

February 2

Novelist Peter Chand will read excerpts from his book Tales from the Motherland as part of Wolverhampton Literature Fest.

Peter is Wolverhampton born and bred, but has told his stories from Southall to Singapore, Birmingham to Belfast, Amsterdam to Athens- and many a place in between.

Tickets cost £7.

Alan Johnson - Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Alan Johnson

February 2

Inspired by his latest book, In My Life, Alan tells his personal story with the help of some of the music that has soundtracked his life, from growing up as an orphan in a West London slum in the 50s to becoming a postman before rising through the Labour Party ranks to hold several cabinet posts, including Home Secretary.

Alan Johnson is one of the most popular politicians of recent times and now a best-selling author, his memoirs selling half a million copies to date.

Tickets cost £18.

Steve Lamacq - Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton

Steve Lamacq

February 3

BBC music guru Steve Lamacq will be sharing tales of 90s indie music in Wolverhampton.

Expect frontline stories from his NME days and about life at Radio 1 and BBC 6Music, where, over 20 years he’s booked sessions for numerous Next Big Things; interviewed Noel Gallagher 17 times; and, in 2013, was awarded the prestigious radio gong, the Sony Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tickets cost £15.

Tracey Thorn - Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Tracey Thorn

February 3

Former Everything But The Girl singer Tracey Thorn is also at the Art Gallery talking about Another Planet, her memoir about suburban childhood.

After forming her first band, Marine Girls, while still at school, Tracey delivered her breakthrough debut mini solo album, A Distant Shore, in 1982.

She then spent seventeen years in bestselling duo Everything But The Girl. Since 2007 she has released three further solo albums, one movie soundtrack, a clutch of singles and two books, including the Sunday Times bestselling memoir, Bedsit Disco Queen.

Tickets cost £12.

Jo Furniss - Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Jo Furniss

February 3

Why do so many thrillers now focus on home lives, marriage, family and trust? Join Jo Furniss, Kerry Hadley-Pryce and University of Wolverhampton’s Senior Lecturer Gabriela Steinke as they examine the increasing popularity of domestic thrillers and why we are all so intrigued to find out what happens behind closed doors.

Jo Furniss started her career at the BBC in the Midlands, where she was a newsreader, reporter and producer in radio.

This event is free to attend.

Trevor Marriott: Jack The Ripper The Real Truth - Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Jack the Ripper

February 3

Retired murder squad detective Trevor Marriott will lift the lid on The Real Truth of Jack The Ripper, focusing on Bilston-born victim Catherine Eddowes.

His two hour one man audio/visual show is packed with pictures from 1888 showing original crime scene photographs of the victims, the suspects, and many other original photographs from 1888 relative to the murders.

Tickets cost £12.

Black Country Women - Lighthouse Media Centre

Emma Purshouse

February 3

Marion Cockin, Iris Rhodes and Emma Purshouse will present work about women’s lives in the Black Country featuring poems from Nailmakers’ Daughters, The Poetry of the Black Country and Close.

Tickets cost £5.

John Cooper Clarke - Bilston Town Hall

John Cooper Clark

February 19

John Cooper Clarke, described as a movie star and rock star as well as the original people's poet, shot to fame in the 1970s and is still a regular on TV today.

His latest touring show, based on his new poetry book The Luckiest Guy Alive, is a mix of classic verse, new material, ponderings on modern life, gags, riffs and chat, and offers visitors the chance to witness a living legend.

Tickets start from £20.

Rebecca Sayce

By Rebecca Sayce

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me:

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